Is there a man in the moon? There is a long tradition in the West that says there is. Or is it a rabbit pounding rice (mochi)? That is the old Japanese view. Look up “man in the moon” on Wikipedia (here) and you will find a great variety of ideas about who lives in the moon. It also seems that in the past some people actually thought the moon was made of green cheese.
Of course, because of modern telescopes and then actual travel to the moon, no educated person today believes there is some person or animal living on or in the moon or that it is made out of anything other than rocks and minerals of various sorts.
But what does this have to do with God? Well, people through the millennia have had different ideas about God, just as they have had about the moon. Can we assume, though, that whereas there is some basic truth about the nature of the moon, there is no essential truth about God? Should we believe that any idea about God is as good as any other?
In his book The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (1989) by Lesslie Newbigin, about whom I wrote in two previous postings (2/1 and 2/8), the British missiologist contends that religious pluralism “is the belief that the differences between the religions are not a matter of truth and falsehood, but of different perceptions of the one truth; that to speak of religious beliefs as true or false is inadmissible” (p. 14).
It seems quite clear that there are different perceptions of God or Truth, but all those perceptions are not equally correct, just as most of the varying ideas about the moon were not true. But, of course, we don’t have direct information about God like we have about the moon. Or do we?
Isn’t there experience of God? If there is, it is certainly not the same as experience of physical objects, like the moon. Experience of God is beyond the realm of science. But does that make it any less real?
The Bible is full of references to hearing God speak, sensing God leading, communicating with God through prayer, and other such experiences. Is there any validity to such experience claims? Or are those claims just subjective experiences with no real contact with an “objective” Being? I think that there are people, many people, who have experienced God to varying degrees and that those experiences are real and not just subjective feelings.
One question being considered by many today, though, is this: Is it only people who are Christians or in the Christian tradition who have experienced or can experience God? Again, I think not. But that doesn’t mean that all ideas about God are equally valid or true, just as all ideas about the moon are not equally true, and most have been clearly false, even though it is the same moon that is observed.